Compiled By NAN Travel Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 21, 2018: It’s been just over a year since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several Caribbean islands. But 360 plus days later, in the middle of another hurricane season, several islands are reporting progress and some return to normalcy.
While the Commonwealth of Dominica was devasted by Hurricane Maria, Colin Piper, the island’s director of tourism, said this week that a lot of progress has been made as the island struggled to return to some sense of normality.
Dominica’s airports – the Douglas-Charles and Canefield – are finally fully open for commercial operations with same-day connectivity with international carriers to and from Douglas-Charles.
The ferry service operated by L’Express des Iles is also available and a new ferry service, Val Ferry, began operating between Dominica and Guadeloupe last month.
Public transportation, taxi services and car rentals are all available on the island and roadways are also open for all vehicles across the island but road repair work is still ongoing in some areas.
Ninety-seven percent of electrical customers have access to reconnect to the national grid while 98 percent now have been restored to the national water supply network.
On the hotel scene, a majority of Dominica’s properties are open, with more than 540 hotel rooms available. Secret Bay is set to re-open in November and Jungle Bay in February 2019 while the Fort Young Hotel, should be fully operational by October with a total of 100 new and refurbished rooms.
Two new luxury hotels will soon be also available. Cabrits Resort Kempinski Dominica is opening next month and Anichi Resort, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, is set to open in late 2019.
The British Virgin Islands is reporting that premier resorts have come back online there including Scrub Island Resort & Spa, Cooper Island Beach Club, Guana Island Resort, Oil Nut Bay and Anegada Beach Club.
As of August 15, there were 769 rooms available throughout the British Caribbean Territory and by this winter season, that number is expected to rise to over 1,000 rooms.
Necker Island is scheduled to reopen on October 1st, with several other luxury properties to follow in late 2019 including Bitter End Yacht Club and Rosewood Little Dix Bay.
Tourism officials also say the island has regained full capacity in terms of airlift and ferry service, with some airlines even expanding service between San Juan and Tortola.
Colin C. James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, has said that Robert De Niro’s planned hotel for Barbuda could be open as early as 2020 while the award-winning Barbuda Belle will be re-opened just in time for the peak season on November 1st.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that more than 407 rooftops on Barbuda have been repaired based on a $2 million grant fund by China and other donor countries while utility services such as electricity and water have been restored to most of the island. Both air and sea ports are in full operation and all beaches have been cleaned and restored while the ferry service between Antigua and Barbuda was upgraded with a new vessel named the Lady Caroline.
In Anguilla, the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (CJLIA, has finally received approval from its regulator, Air Safety Support International (ASSI), for resumption of night time operations. Following the severe damage of Hurricane Irma, night operations at the CJLIA had been suspended.
Saint Martin/St. Maarten
In the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin, a major hotel that was damaged in Hurricane Irma is also reopening.
Belmond La Samanna is scheduled to re-open on December 10, 2018.
And on St. Maarten, the Princess Julianna International Airport is scheduled to reopen its ground floor at the beginning of November 2018 and several North American legacy carriers will reintroduce service to the island for the winter season. All phases of repairs to the Princess Juliana International Airport are expected to be completed by 2020.
Beginning February 16, Jet Blue flights will depart JFK at 10:55 a.m. and land in St. Maarten at 3:52 p.m. with return flights taking off at 5:30 p.m. and landing back in New York at 9:07 p.m.
Mint flights from Boston to St. Maarten are also slated to launch February 16. Flights leave Boston at 7:10 a.m. and land in St. Maarten at 12:20 p.m. Return flights leave St. Maarten at 1:45 p.m. and land back in Boston at 5:17 p.m.
American Airlines will be adding a daily nonstop flight to St. Maarten from its hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) starting November 4, as well as a second daily nonstop from Miami effective December 19. Both new flights are currently bookable and will be operated by Airbus A319 aircraft with a capacity of 128 passengers.
Meanwhile, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort is scheduled to re-open on November 15, 2018, and the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Spa on February 1, 2019, respectively.
The former Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort is slated to open as a Planet Hollywood hotel in the second quarter of 2019. It will have 450 rooms, five restaurants, a 20,000 square-foot casino, a spa, and a beach club.
Amongst the larger properties, Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, Simpson Bay Resorts & Marina and Oyster Bay Beach Resort all reopened their doors.
In St. Barths, Le Sereno St. Barth is scheduled to re-open on Dec. 1st after a complete renovation, including more than half the rooms and all of the public spaces.